The River to Freedom by Clare Gray

The River to Freedom by Clare Gray

It was a quiet calm evening. Matthew was at home with his father. Suddenly some soldiers appeared: they killed the father. Matthew in despair took the weapon. He tried to shoot them, but was caught and taken to the army. Matthew ran away, even though it was not easy. He hid in the river. He lurked, listening to the voices of his enemies and hoping that he would not be noticed. But suddenly the fugitive saw a crocodile. The dangerous predator headed towards the young man. Weirdly, this crocodile changed its mind and swam away. The guy was very close to death, but it turned out to be his lucky day. Today Matthew lives in Bulgaria. He is known as a tall, strong man with many friends. But in his eyes one can see some kind of another secret force.

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The River to Freedom by Clare Gray

Suddenly, the crocodile turned and swam away. It was not Matthew’s first lucky escape-or his last.

The big African sun was low in the sky and the Nile River moved slowly and quietly through the wide land. Matthew’s clothes felt cold against his skin in the water. He floated silently, listening carefully for soldiers’ voices. “They will kill me if they find me,” he thought. He stayed carefully by the long grass at the side of the river.

Matthews body hurt and he was hungry and very weak. He wanted to swim quickly to safer water, but he did not move. Soldiers can easily hear the sound of a man swimming on a quiet evening. Matthew looked slowly around the dark river-straight into the narrow, yellow eyes of a crocodile!

The large, dangerous animal began swimming quickly toward him. What could he do? “I’m a dead man!” he thought. As the animal came closer, Matthew looked deep into its cold eyes. He prepared for a painful death.

The River to Freedom by Clare Gray

Suddenly, the crocodile turned and swam away. It was not Matthew’s first lucky escape – or his last.

Six months earlier, Matthew was enjoying a quiet evening with his father. They were sitting outside their home in the south of Sudan, talking happily. Suddenly, soldiers arrived in the quiet streets near them. “We didn’t say anything,” he remembers. “We waited for a question … but there was no question… They came and shot my father. I couldn’t believe that my father was shot.”

Matthew wanted to destroy his father’s murderers immediately. Moving quickly toward the soldiers, he tried to take a gun. But he was one man against many. He was caught and taken to an army prison. He was one more prisoner in Sudan’s long war.

Matthew’s room in prison was too small for a bed. It was even too low to stand up in. It was a painful and difficult life. But Matthew stayed in this dark box for six months. Every day the soldiers hit the prisoners. Matthew’s body was weak and broken, but his mind and heart were still strong.

One day the prison guards decided to move some of the prisoners. Did they want to kill them? Or was Matthew’s luck changing at last? As he walked slowly and painfully in the bright sun, Matthew noticed something like an ugly, gray stream. It was cut straight and deep into the earth. Dirty water ran through it from the prison buildings, through the yard, and under the prison wall…

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